MASTERFORCE - 12" Drill Press (Rating: 4)

After doing plenty of research, as usual, I decided that the Masterforce drill press sold by Menard's would be the best for me. They went for $200 when I pulled the trigger just over a year ago, but the price has gone up to $230 in most stores. I got an 11% rebate on mine, and shortly after they went on sale for $180 (my luck). If you're ready to buy a mid-sized drill press, don't let the store-brand scare you away-Masterforce is on par with Home Depot's Ridgid brand. Just stay away from "Tool Shop".

Initial Stance
The first thing I noticed about this drill press is the surprising heft it has. It's almost too big to be called a bench top, but still too small to be a floor model. In my setup picture, you can see that I built the stand a few inches lower than my bench. I'm 6' 1", and having it on my bench is still just too uncomfortable to use. The machine definitely has enough mass to stay in place, despite any vibrations from using things like spade bits. I have yet to notice any walking, since I left it unbolted to the stand.

This thing is loaded. The laser and LED lamp work beautifully, even though I rarely use them. The laser crosshair was dead on right out of the box. Changing speeds couldn't get any easier unless Menard's included voice control. The digital RPM readout is great too, eliminating any guesswork. Power is no issue; I have yet to come even close to bogging this thing down. The table is a little iffy. It's more suited for metalwork, even more so than most drill press tables. I built my own, complete with fence and inserts. There is an extendable roller guide that works with the original table and could be modified to work with my auxiliary table, but I doubt I would use it enough.

Overall, I give this machine four shiny stars. I reserved the fifth due to a few minor problems. When it's cold out, the machine has a hard time starting; it makes chugging sounds while trying to get the belt to engage. It helps if I bring it down to the lowest speed once I'm done using it for the day, so it's there when I want to start it again. Fit and finish could be a little better, but it's really nothing to complain about. This drill press is identical to the JET JDP-12, but is $150-$250 less.